Should K-12 school districts provide students with an email address and teach them how to use it? The current thinking for most school districts is no because there is no real need after all they can just get a free personal account like Gmail or Hotmail if they want one. Maybe it’s time to rethink this as email has become the de-facto communication standard for many adults in our busy world because it allows you to:
- Send a message any time, anywhere and the recipient can read it at his or her convenience.
- Send the same message to multiple recipients.
- Forward information without retyping it.
- E-mail is fast, usually taking no more than a few seconds to be received.
- You can attach digital files to your messages, including electronic documents, video clips, music and photos.
- Send messages around the world as easily as to someone down the block.
It is a skill that today’s students will need to master if they are to be effective communicators in their future careers, yet where does one learn to use it? I sure everybody has received emails that range from unprofessional to vague, unclear, perhaps even threatening or with false information Ever sent an email and wonder if the recipient ever got it? I am always amazed at how many individuals continue to misuse email. Isn’t one of the fundamental roles of school is to help prepare students for the workplace? Perhaps the student/teacher relationship is perfect for teaching this 21st skill including proper etiquette for using email efficiently and effectively.
If students communicated with teachers via email they could practice:
- How to create and use distribution lists
- When/Why use “Reply All”
- When/Why use CC & BC
- When/How ineffective email can be and how to avoid miscommunication and other common problems
- Knowledge of attachments and file types
- How/When to sound formal or professional
- How to keep your email organized
- How to to differentiate between texting and email
- Using email with mobile devices
- How to keep your email secure
It is rare these days that a workplace doesn’t provide their employees with a work branded email and expect them to use it when communicating about work related topics. E-mail has definitely proven it effectiveness in the workplace, so why not bring those efficiencies in communication into the classroom? Why not give each student a school email to use when communicating with teachers and collaborating with fellow students. It would help with organization, provide an efficient method for administration and teachers to communicate with students. Having school email accounts also allows students to connect with a broader community of students outside of their friend network when working on class projects. It is the environment they will have to master to be successful in the 21st century workplace, so I think we should get started ASAP!
P21 is a national organization that advocates for 21st century readiness for every student. As the United States continues to compete in a global economy that demands innovation, P21 and its members provide tools and resources to help the U.S. education system keep up by fusing the 3Rs and 4Cs (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation). While leading districts and schools are already doing this, P21 advocates for local, state and federal policies that support this approach for every school.
For more info see: http://www.p21.org/